We have driven by Shaan Indian Restaurant in my very neighborhood for years, never went in. Today one of my fellow yoga practitioners recommended Shaan to me as,’The best Indian restaurant in town, bar none.” Wow, high praise as she is pretty sniffy. Then my landlady highly recommended it to me, as did my landlord (both people who know what the score is, especially in the ‘hood). They were right, Shaan was Fabulous.
The owner and others are very kindly and welcoming and the menu is extensive as it can be. How extensive? There are about FOURTEEN DIFFERENT INDIAN BREADS ALONE ON THE MENU! I was not just impressed, I was flabbergasted at the variety the kitchen can turn out. Take a look! There isn’t anything I can think of that they don’t have. The hardest part about going there was deciding what to choose. I picked Tikka Bartha (boneless chicken tandoori with eggplant), and my husband had the Lamb Kabob on onions. We started off with the Mixed Platter as an appetizer.
The Mixed Platter could not have been nicer. Everything was freshly cooked, the chicken was tender and perfect, the fried veggies were delightful, the fried cheese squares were delicate and super fresh, there were potato pancakes and a samosa which were all the pinnacle of goodness. We could have stopped right there, it was abundant BUT there was a cucumber salad which my husband ordered, too. It was immense and I detest cucumbers in anything, however one bite of this and I realized there was magic coming out of that kitchen. I loved it, cukes and all. There didn’t seem to be dressing on it but they had dusted it with some wonderful spices which were beyond good.
Then our main courses emerged. Mine was as spicy as I had ordered (a 2 for wimpy types) tender chicken with creamy eggplant and I think there was a touch of cream to it all, as well. On top of flawless basmati rice. We had ordered a garlic Nan which was ghhhhharlicy and toothsome.
My husband’s kebab was like shwarama or a gyro and was delivered as hot as if it emerged from hell itself! Hissing and good, he got an orangy-yellow sauce to go with it which can only be described as honey without the sweetness. It was exceptional.
The bill for two with side dishes and appetizers came to less than $50 after a generous tip. The entire time we were there there was an endless parade of people marching in and marching out with carry out bags.
Shaan is a medium sized place with almost no decor to speak of, but the food is so good that if the walls were just blank white, it would be OK. The service was impeccable and the menu was huge. I was not surprised to see diners pouring in around 7:30 and there was a waiting area in a vestibule for their peak hours which probably gets used a lot. One other thing which was remarkable about Shaan, their sense of timing was spot on. They knew when to serve and when to leave you to your own devices. You could tell that they were experienced at making guests feel unrushed but tended-to.
They do not serve alcohol, but you can bring your own booze and they will give you glassware out of which to drink. The menu does not contain pork or beef, so this would be a great Muslim meeting spot, and in truth there was a lady who came in wearing hijab. Overall, the dress is casual, I was wearing my gym togs and no one said anything to me. The atmosphere is friendly, welcoming, and very laid back. You could expect to see the Maharajah of Kuch-Bahar or your local yoga instructor in there at any time.
Shaan is indeed the best Indian restaurant in Cincinnati. We will be back and I hope that you will try it out and sample the pleasures of the place.
This review was brought to you by Possets Perfumes, a place where you will find a cornucopia of Bottled Happiness. Like things Indian? Try out a sample size of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal (all oude, red musk, and aged patchouli), or The Girls Love India (honey and nag champa do the twirl), and there are more more more of the spicy and exotic. Take a visit and smell for yourself: www.possets.com